Tuesday, September 16, 2014

overtime vs. base pay

Ages ago, I discussed the (usually low-end/cheaper/commodity) environmental firms that keep their entry-level folks in the field non-stop and save money by not paying overtime. But what about organizations that prefer to retain employees and are willing to pay them to do so?

I've always worked for environmental firms that paid overtime for fieldwork/billable work, although policies varied regarding non-billable work. But I know of other firms that do not pay overtime. Instead, they have a much better base pay.

I like being paid overtime. It means that when I work an outrageously long day (or week), I have something tangible to show for it. It also means that I don't have as much pressure to work long hours if the firm isn't as busy. However, I do have enough of a financial cushion that I'm ok with somewhat erratic pay, and my overtime is a bonus and not a personal financial requirement.

If you could choose a higher salary to make up for a lack of overtime, how much higher would it need to be? Would it be equal to your base pay + overtime, averaged over an entire year? Or would you want to be paid a certain amount extra, to make up for the uncertainty in your schedule?


Anonymous said...

Hello Short Geologist, long time reader, first time commenter.

It is absolutely illegal to not pay overtime, billable or not. Paying a salary does not remove this obligation.

Only "exempt employees" who have a specific legal definition (which includes direct hiring and firing ability)do not need to be paid overtime. If you do not get paid time and half for hours over 40/week. The company is breaking the law, and can be sued for all back overtime pay for the last 2 years. This is probably the most widely violated labor law in the US currently.

There are plenty of articles online about this (including on LinkedIn) and law firms that specialize in this subject.

Short Geologist said...

Nope. If you are an engineer/scientist and you are doing more than routine sampling (e.g. more than just a technician) and are paid above a certain salary, you are exempt. This falls under the "learned professional exemption". See http://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17d_professional.pdf